Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Financial Distress Survey (England)

Business Health Statistics

| June 29th 2022

More News by Julie Palmer

Date Published: 29th June 2022

Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert Football Financial Distress Survey (England)

March 2022 Football Distress Survey: Almost half of EFL clubs see continuing financial distress as high levels of debt and rising player wages choke English clubs

US investors eye ‘discounted’ investments as football clubs struggle with rising overheads

The March 2022 Football Distress Survey, which has been conducted by business recovery specialist Begbies Traynor since 2012, reports that financial distress is now affecting a total of 32 (44%) of the 72 clubs in the English Football League (down from 34 in October 2021), still double the number before the pandemic.

Player wages rising ahead of inflation, and high levels of debt continue to impact English Football League Clubs more than those in Scotland, where just six clubs (14%) are similarly impacted by financial distress.

The combination of financial hardship and a struggling pound has made UK clubs an attractive investment opportunity for US investors, and just like Chelsea, Leeds United and lower league clubs such as Wrexham, more clubs are likely to see North American investment or outright ownership in the next year.

“Government Covid measures helped clubs survive during lock down, but with rising inflation and increasing player wages, many clubs are staggering along. Next season’s gates and season ticket sales are likely to be impacted significantly by reduced consumer spending as a result of rampant inflation.

“That comes at a time when player wages are rising so much faster than the rate at which ordinary fans’ income is climbing. It’s a more prominent trend in the top tier of English football, but these trends are seen in lower divisions too,” commented Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer. 

“The squeeze that keeps clubs from building a war chest and cash flow resilience offers an opportunity to overseas investors, especially when Brexit has left the pound so discounted against the US dollar. For some clubs that’s proving to be a welcome lifeline that prevents financial failure and the legacy of points deductions,” she added.

Since March 2021, the number of English clubs displaying signs of financial difficulty has remained relatively steady, climbing from 33 in England and Wales to 34 in October 2021 and back to 32 in the most recent period to 31 March 2022. 

“In 2012 when we started this report, an average Premier League player was earning £1.6m and that number has almost doubled to £3.1m. Over the same time average UK wages have risen by just 18%. With players’ wages being such a massive proportion of a club’s expenditure, and the area with the most room for negotiation, that is the natural place to look to make reductions and reset a situation that is now threatening the existence of many clubs,” added Begbies Traynor partner Gerald Krasner.

“In some cases, the huge financial firepower of US investors can help to cushion the blow of relegation and financial hardship, but in any business with a rising wage overhead that is outstripping the general revenue trend, and with a looming consumer spending crisis likely, there will be problems down the road,” he added.

Krasner, who was one of the team of three administrators that successfully sold Wigan Athletic FC out of administration last year, was previously chairman of Leeds United and is one of the UK’s leading football restructuring experts.

About the author

Julie Palmer

Regional Managing Partner

Meet our Team of Experts

Julie is a law graduate who qualified with Price Waterhouse in 1994. Julie joined Smith & Williamson in 1997 and became a partner in 2001. With Mike Stevenson, Julie set up Middleton Partners offices in Salisbury and Southampton, both of which are now part of Begbies Traynor.

Julie is a member of the Insolvency Practitioners Association and is a Fellow of The Association of Business Recovery Professionals. Julie deals with all aspects of Corporate Recovery and turnaround work and takes all form of personal insolvency appointments.

Network of Over 100 UK Offices

Find your local Begbies Traynor Group office and speak to an adviser today.

Find your Local Office
0800 063 9221

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
0800 464 0871

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
0161 837 1700

Call our Confidential Advice Line. Calls to this number are free of charge.

Call us now...
Request a Meeting

We invite you to come and discuss your enquiry with us at your convenience.

Request a meeting...
Begbies Traynor Group plc, announces that it has completed the acquisition of CVR Global LLP
CVR is a leading independent firm of insolvency practitioners, forensic accountants and experts in other related complementary disciplines.
Read More →
Coronavirus pushes financially distressed companies over the half-million mark
Number of businesses in significant distress stands at 509,000 – the highest number measured by the Red Flag Alert research
Read More →
BTG Advisory accelerates growth with appointment of four new partners to its London office
BTG Advisory, the boutique advisory arm of Begbies Traynor Group announces the appointment of four new partners to its Canary Wharf office
Read More →
Eighty jobs saved with £1m sale of engineering business
South Yorkshire company Newburgh Precision rescued through administration
Sale enables 75-year-old business to continue trading
Read More →
Join thousands of professionals by signing up for our updates
Analysis and Opinion from our Partners
Top Industry News
Register Now →

Advice you can trust

We are accredited by the following industry leading organisations

Insolvency Practitioners Association Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales R3: Association of Business Recovery Professionals ICAEW Business Advice Service Turnaround Management Association ICAS | The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland

Contact the Begbies Traynor Group team

or Find your Nearest Office

Here at Begbies Traynor Group we take your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to contact you with regards to your enquiry. We will not use your information for marketing purposes. See PRIVACY POLICY


This site uses cookies to monitor site performance and provide a more responsive and personalised experience. You must agree to our use of certain cookies. For more information on how we use and manage cookies please read our PRIVACY POLICY